MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Leila de Lima has asked the Metropolitan Trial Court to dismiss the case filed by the leadership of the House of Representatives against her for alleged disobedience when it was conducting an inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). In a 15-page counter-affidavit filed before the MTC Branch 34 in Quezon City last Jan. 13, De Lima laid four arguments to quash the case filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali against her last December. In their complaint, the House leaders accused the senator of violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code or “disobedience to summons” of Congress with the Department of Justice, which elevated the matter to the court.
Violation of a provision of the article is punishable either by imprisonment or a fine, or both. The House leaders alleged that De Lima induced her former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan – via text message last Oct. 1 through his daughter – to hide and not testify before the hearing of the House justice committee chaired by Umali. They filed a similar complaint before the Senate ethics committee, which is expected to convene today to tackle the various complaints against De Lima.
“It is respectfully submitted that the filing of the (case) against me is clearly a form of persecution rather than prosecution. I am being forced to answer for an act of commission which is flagrantly negated by the evidence on record,” De Lima said in her affidavit obtained by The STAR. The senator said the charge was assuming that she knew the committee subpoenaed Dayan when resource persons in legislative inquiries are usually just invited not summoned. She said she was not legally required to be informed of any subpoena to be issued to Dayan nor was she obligated to find out for herself.
De Lima stressed Article 150 only penalizes “inducing disobedience to a summons,” not inducing refusal to accept an invitation. De Lima also accused the DOJ of not including portions of Dayan’s testimony or “exculpatory statements” during the House hearing last Nov. 24 that would clear her of the allegation. She said based on Dayan’s testimony, he asked his daughter to seek her “opinion” on the summons and only decided to hide when he could no longer contact the senator. During the same hearing, Dayan also testified he went into hiding because he feared that local politicians in Pangasinan would get back at him as they thought he included them in the supposed matrix of drug lords.